Extreme Gerrymandering In Ohio Called Out

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CNN’s Reality Check w/John Avlon did a segment(11/19/21) featuring an extreme gerrymandering case currently playing out in Ohio. Back in 2018, Ohio voters overwhelmingly backed(75%) an amendment to the state’s constitution that would ensure redistricting was carried out in a bipartisan fashion. Ohio’s congressional district maps were to be drawn by a bipartisan 7-member redistricting commission. The idea behind a bipartisan redistricting commission was quite simple–to create competitive district maps which would in turn reduce political polarization. Basically, politicians will shy away from radical ideas/conduct if they know they can be easily beaten at the polls.

Well, it turns out Ohio Republicans have since reneged on their support for a bipartisan redistricting commission, and are now using the Republican-led state legislature to come up with an extremely gerrymandered map, one that will give them a 13-2 advantage in congressional seats(86%R-14%D), even though Trump’s 2020 win in Ohio was only 53%-45%. No reasonable person would ever conclude that Ohio is an 86R-14D state, yet this is exactly what the new congressional map being pushed by state Republicans attempts to achieve–a total fraud and willful disenfranchisement of Democratic-leaning voters.

Even more repugnant is the way the Republican-led Ohio state legislature ended up being responsible for drawing the congressional maps. According to John Avlon, Republican members of the bipartisan redistricting commission simply refused to show up for duty, thereby crippling the commission because it was unable to convene meetings. With the bipartisan commission deliberately crippled, the redistricting job fell back to the partisan Ohio legislature, which drew the extremely gerrymandered map–a sad state of affairs indeed.

John Avlon said: “Ohio Republicans just decided to disregard the state constitution and the will of the voters. A seven-member redistricting commission had a month to work on a fair map, but Republican members refused to participate, and so the commission couldn’t convene. The power to draw the lines fell back to the Republican-controlled state assembly, who proceeded to do exactly what the constitutional amendment forbade. They cracked and packed minority communities, dividing counties and cities for their own partisan advantage. For example, Hamilton County, home to Cincinnati, which voted for[President] Biden by a 16-point margin, will be divided into 3 congressional districts, with Black voters offset by White Republicans.”

This is just the latest example of how state Republicans are actively disenfranchising Democratic-leaning/minority voters while Democrats in Washington are still dithering over abolishing the filibuster, and coming up with a federal voting rights law. A federal voting rights law is the only solution to the rampant GOP gerrymandering.

Bottom line folks, time is of the essence. Democrats need to abolish the filibuster immediately and pass a federal voting rights law. The two Senate holdouts, Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin, must be confronted with this troubling Ohio gerrymandering case, and be forced to explain why a filibuster carve out for a federal voting legislation is not the appropriate way to go, given the dire circumstances.

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Reports Of Growing Tension Between Trump And Gov DeSantis Over 2024 Election

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CNN’s Gabby Orr reported on New Day(11/19/21) that tension is growing between former President Donald Trump and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis over the 2024 election. Trump is apparently upset that Gov DeSantis has not yet stated publicly that he won’t challenge him for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination, if he decides to run. Trump is reportedly fuming to close aides, telling them that he “made” DeSantis.

If this reporting holds, it will be the clearest sign yet, that Gov DeSantis’ rise in the national GOP ranks, and his potential 2024 presidential run, has caught Trump’s attention, and not in a good way.

Gabby Orr told New Day Host **John Berman: “As Donald Trump tracks very closely what Republican presidential hopefuls for 2024 have said about challenging him if he does decide to go for a third presidential run, he has been increasingly irritated with the cardinal sin that Governor Ron DeSantis is committing, by not saying anything of the sort. He has not come out and said ‘I will not challenge Donald Trump if he decides to run in 2024’, he has not even said that he is interested in 2024 and that, according to aides to Donald Trump…is really irking the former President. My colleague Steve Contorno and I talked to several people close to both DeSantis and Donald Trump who said, there is a noticeable strain on the relationship and that [former]President Trump will not be satisfied until Ron DeSantis comes out and unequivocally says he will not challenge the former president in a GOP presidential primary.

Gabby Orr added that while Trump is not personally attacking Gov DeSantis in his private conversations with allies, he is constantly reminding them that he “made” DeSantis, an obvious implication that DeSantis should be loyal to him. Trump’s craving for loyalty pledges is nothing new. The only question is whether rising GOP star DeSantis will clip his wings to appease him as we head towards 2024.

Bottom line folks, the 2024 GOP presidential primary will be a Trumpism referendum–whether the Republican Party continues with Trump as it’s leader, or whether the party settles on someone else–a Ron DeSantis, Chris Christie, Mike Pompeo, Nikki Haley–as the new flag bearer. It will be very interesting to see how Florida Governor DeSantis navigates the choppy waters ahead, now that he knows he has TeamTrump scared.

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Rep Jim Jordan’s Shifty Answers About His Convos With Trump On January 6th

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CNN’s Brianna Keilar did an interesting segment on her New Day show (10/21/2021), where she explored Rep Jim Jordan’s very shifty answers to questions about his conversations with then President Trump on January 6th 2021. It appears Rep Jim Jordan’s accounts of his conversations with Trump on that fateful day appear to be changing with every subsequent interview, meaning he may be hiding, or attempting to hide some details about his interactions with Trump on that day.

After stating categorically in previous interviews that he spoke to Trump on January 6th, but only after the insurrection, the Ohio Congressman appears to be changing his tune lately, suggesting that he spoke to Trump on January 6th, but he doesn’t know “when those conversations happened.” Basically, he now doesn’t remember whether he spoke to Trump before or after the insurrection.

Any reasonable person presented with Rep Jim Jordan’s conflicting statements as to whether he spoke to Trump before or after the January 6th insurrection will arrive at the same conclusion, and that is, Rep Jim Jordan is attempting to hide details of his January 6th conversations with Trump from the public. Rep Jordan’s phone records on January 6th can solve this mystery instantly.

Bottom line folks, one doesn’t have to be an experienced investigator to deduce from the CNN segment that Rep Jordan should be a person of interest for the January 6th Commission. Maybe, just maybe, he’ll remember the exact time he spoke to Trump on January 6th, if he is forced to testify under oath.

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GOP Congressman Introduced DOJ Official Who Tried To Overturn Georgia’s Election Results To Trump

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Rep Scott Perry(R-PA) With Trump At A MAGA Rally

CNN Political Correspondent Sara Murray reported on New Day (10/13/2021) that Rep Scott Perry (R-PA) is facing renewed scrutiny over his role in the January 6th DC insurrection, because he is the one who introduced Jeffrey Clark to then President Donald Trump. Jeffrey Clark is the former senior Department of Justice(DOJ) official who went as far as drafting a letter that was supposed to be sent to the Georgia legislature, informing them that the 2020 election results were under DOJ investigation, thereby giving the Republican-controlled legislature an excuse for not certifying the 2020 election results. Jeffrey Clark’s attempts to grossly abuse DOJ powers to keep Trump in office, has naturally raised questions as to why Rep Perry introduced him to Trump in the first place.

New Day host Brianna Keilar:“Okay[Rep]Perry introduced Trump to Jeffrey Clark. How did Perry know Jeffrey Clark?

Sara Murray:“This is a big outstanding mystery. We’ve asked Perry’s office multiple times, they’ve not responded to our questions. Even in these reports, these DOJ officials say it was never clear how this Congressman from Pennsylvania had this relationship with Jeffrey Clark, how he came to facilitate introductions to President Trump, and even an Oval Office meeting with Trump and Clark in it.”

It also bears pointing out that Rep Perry was one of the most vocal House Republicans parroting Trump’s false claims that the 2020 elections had somehow been rigged against him–“the big lie”. This raises more questions as to why Rep Perry introduced Jeffrey Clark to Trump. Was Rep Perry also involved in drafting the letter that was intended for the Republican-controlled Georgia legislature?

Bottom line folks, Rep Scott Perry is definitely someone who needs to testify before the January 6th Commission. Reasonable people will agree that a sitting member of Congress who not only actively pushed Trump’s “big lie”, but also enlisted a corrupt DOJ official to abuse his position in furtherance of the same “big lie”, should be thoroughly grilled by the January 6th Commission.

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Sean Hannity Busted For Lying About “Spontaneous” Presidents Day Crowd For Trump In Florida

On the 02/16/2021 edition of her show CNN Newsroom, host Brianna Keilar masterfully deconstructed the lie perpetrated by Sean Hannity and his friends at Fox News, that a “spontaneous” crowd came out to greet former President Trump in Florida on Presidents Day. Hannity and his friends at Fox News, were of course attempting to use the “spontaneous” crowd lie to perpetuate this perception that Trump is still very popular among the base, and should continue as leader of the GOP.

Sean Hannity said on Presidents Day, “A few hours ago, spontaneously, thousands of people in Palm Beach, lined up in support of the former president as his motorcade travelled through Florida. I have a question [Senators] Mitch McConnell, John Thune, how come you’ve never had this kind of enthusiasm at any of your events?” Hannity then went on to interview Trump’s son Donald Trump, Jr asking him, “Looking at your dad coming back from golf, did you see thousands of people out of nowhere? Nobody organized it that I can see, and certainly nobody associated with your father that I know of, do you?” Trump, Jr responded, “No. This is totally organic and again, it just shows that the American people are with Donald Trump.” The full CNN segment is available here but the relevant Hannity clip is below.

Turns out per Brianna Keilar, there was nothing spontaneous about the crowd that turned out to greet former President Trump on Presidents Day, and importantly, Sean Hannity knew this while he was lying on his show. Brianna Keilar then went on to demonstrate how these flagrant lies by Hannity and his pals at Fox News are not only harming our democracy, but also literally tearing families apart. She gave the heartbreaking example of Rep Adam Kinzinger, who is now considered to be in the “devil’s army” by some members of his family, who have confessed to believing the words of Hannity and company religiously. This means others in the mainstream media must follow Brianna Keilar’s lead and confront the flagrant lies emanating from Hannity and his friends at Fox News.

Bottom line folks, after the unfortunate events of the January 6th DC insurrection, which was primarily based on lies spread on Fox News and other right wing media outlets, we can no longer let the network self-police itself. It is very important for the public to call out the flagrant lies coming out of Fox News and other right wing media outlets, as Brianna Keilar routinely does. Simply put, we must not allow the lies emanating from Fox News and other right wing media outlets to go unchallenged. As a matter of fact, it is high time we started chronicling and keeping track of who is saying what on these right wing channels so that when another Jan 6th-like incident happens, we know exactly who to pin the blame on. Good stuff Brianna Keilar, as always.

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Texas Surcharge Program, A Modern Day Slavery

You have heard many stories about how the Republican party both nationally and at the state level has over the years embarked on policies that consistently hurt the poor while benefiting the rich, or as they call it on Twitter the #WarOnPoverty. The GOP’s attack on the poor has taken several forms for example reducing funding for food stamps, opposing hikes to minimum wage, etc.

All these affronts on the poor by the GOP have received a lot of national media attention and deservedly so. However there are other egregious GOP attacks on the poor that never get the national media attention they deserve, but have serious negative consequences on the daily lives of the working poor. One such attack is the notorious Texas Surcharge Program, an out and out modern day slavery.

The Republican-controlled Texas Legislature introduced the program in 2003 with an aim to raise money to fund the very expensive Texas trauma centers.

The idea was that imposing additional fines to traffic tickets would deter people from breaking traffic rules and as a result improve overall public safety while at the same time providing the much needed funding for the trauma centers. The result however has been the total opposite–a total nightmare for Texas drivers.

Millions of Texas Drivers are driving around with driver licences that they don’t even know have been long suspended thanks to the surcharges. You have Texas parents dropping their kids to school and then going to work only to have to call their family from county jail saying they were arrested for driving with a suspended license that they had no idea about. This of course means these families then have to redirect their already meager financial resources to paying a bail bonding company, towing charges etc or in many instances just letting their loved one sit in jail, losing their jobs and digging them deeper into poverty–the aforementioned modern day slavery.

You also have to consider the tremendous burden that lack of a valid driver’s license imposes on working families. This for some people means giving up a good job offer simply because it will require them to drive daily with their suspended license putting them at risk of arrest, or not being able to take out a rental car during the holidays, and so on, all because of the Texas Surcharge program.

As you can see from this Texas Tribune piece, it has been very difficult to put an end to this program even though there is irrefutable evidence of the disastrous effects it is having on Texas working families. As the article correctly points out, the Texas Surcharge Program is a cash cow that Texas politicians(including some Democrats) have found impossible to resist. Much of the Texas media is also resigned to this sad reality—that we are forever stuck with the Texas surcharge cash cow, its harmful consequences on working families be damned!!

Excerpt from an 08/18/2014 Texas Tribune piece by Gilad Edelman

Yours Truly totally rejects this notion that we are somehow stuck with the modern day slavery that is the Texas surcharge program, and intends to marshal support for a grassroots campaign to finally put an end to the misery this program continues to impose on working families. Simply put Yours Truly intends to finally free Texas working families from the shackles of the Texas surcharge program.

The original plan was to muster enough grassroots pressure to force the Texas legislature to finally scrap this program but it appears there’s already an alternative and equally effective route available. Turns out Equal Justice Under Law, a Washington DC based non-profit has already filed a federal lawsuit against Texas DPS arguing that the Texas Surcharge program is unconstitutional.

In a December 5 2018 KUT News piece, the Executive Director of the DC non-profit, Phil Telfeyan said regarding the Texas surcharge program, “What Texas is doing is punishing people for being poor.” The lawsuit by this DC non-profit makes our efforts at scrapping the Texas surcharge program much easier because a ruling by a federal court that the program is unconstitutional frees us all from its shackles.

Bottom line folks, we cannot just sit idly by and expect to be miraculously emancipated from this modern day slavery. We must fully support the great efforts of Phil Telfeyan and his non-profit group to finally put an end to the Texas surcharge program. It all begins by giving our full support, material and otherwise to the good folks at Equal Justice Under Law as they pursue their lawsuit against Texas DPS. Yours Truly highly recommends that you follow them on Twitter so as to keep up with their federal lawsuit.

It also cannot be left unsaid that if Democrats want to make inroads in Texas they must capitalize on highly unpopular GOP-inspired initiatives like the Texas surcharge program that elicit bipartisan loathing. The winning message for Texas Democrats can be very simple, “If you are sick driving scared because of GOP’s surcharge program, vote for Democrats.”

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